As NSW residents finally step out of their 5km zone for a long-awaited pint at the pub and a haircut there is still no sign of the state’s promised VaxPass app despite having 106 days to prepare for the reopening.
NSW Minister for Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello told 2GB Breakfast host Ben Fordham on Monday that a delay in information provided by the Australian Immunisation Register was behind the failure to have the Service NSW vaccine passport app ready in time.
‘I’ve got to cop it on the chin, we’ve been moving heaven and earth since we got the approval from the feds,’ he told Mr Fordham.
‘I just couldn’t get things [happening] fast enough.’
NSW Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello told 2GB Breakfast host Ben Fordham on Monday that late information provided by the National Immunisation Register was behind the delay in rolling out the Service NSW vaccination status app
Justin Green, owner of Plus Fitness in Darlinghurst, checks a members digitised vaccination certificate. Mr Dominello said despite first flagging the need for the NSW VaxPass app back in February, he and his department were forced to wait for a national cabinet decision
People dine at a cafe in Bronte as Sydney re-opens. The Service NSW app to confirm vaccination status will not be in use in Greater Sydney until next Monday, October 18
A woman poses in between sets at Plus Fitness, Darlinghurst, Sydney on Monday, as Covid-19 restrictions ease across NSW
The app, which venues will use to ensure they are only allowing fully-vaccinated people into their premises until December 1, will be tested in regional centres this week.
The first trial will begin on Monday with up to 500 fully-vaccinated residents in Tamworth, Port Macquarie, Wagga Wagga and Lismore piloting the QR Code program in participating venues which include aged care facilities, clubs, and taxis.
It will not be available in Greater Sydney until next Monday October 18, Mr Dominello said.
Mr Dominello said despite first flagging the need for the app back in February, he and his department were forced to wait for a national cabinet decision.
‘I could see this train coming but that information comes from the federal government figures as part of the Australian Immunisation Register and ultimately it took a decision of national cabinet to prioritise this.
‘Essentially we only got the information about two weeks ago and then the real testing commenced about a week ago.’
Mr Dominello confessed that the the absence of the app after 106 days of lockdown had made for a ‘terrible experience for businesses and customers’, in response to claims venues were already finding it confusing and difficult to check patrons’ vaccination status.
‘Our deadline was October 18… that’s when we thought we’d be at 70 per cent,’ he said. ‘It’s working in a testing environment, we’re doing it in the regions this week.’
A woman shows her digitised vaccination certificate to staff at the City Gym entrance in East Sydney after Sydney’s re-opening on Monday
Celebrity hairdresser working in his Double Bay salon on Monday as customers were welcomed back
Mr Dominello said the Service NSW app would still be useful beyond December 1, when unvaccinated people will also be allowed entry to venues in Greater Sydney
Premier Dominic Perrottet also addressed the delay in rolling out the app at a press conference on Monday, urging critics to ‘not let perfection be the enemy of the good here’.
‘In relation to the passport issue… it was never going to be an impediment in relation to opening up,’ Mr Perrottet claimed. ‘The Service NSW app is nation leading when it comes to QR codes and check-ins.
‘My understanding from the Customer Services Minister is there have been some challenges in obtaining some of the data from the federal government.
‘Please respect everyone as we do it. If we can get [the rollout of the app] done as quickly as possible, I know the minister is working tirelessly to get it done so it’s a one-stop shop.’
Fordham asked Mr Dominello whether the app would be redundant by December 1, the date when unvaccinated people would have the same status as vaccinated people in relation to entering venues.
Mr Dominello said the app would still be useful to those who travel overseas and interstate, or wished to enter ‘high-risk’ venues, and was part of ‘future-proofing’ the state in the case of another pandemic.
‘I can’t imagine in the immediate foreseeable future that high-risk venues such as nursing homes and aged care facilities will allow unvaccinated people in.’
Freedoms restored: what residents of Greater Sydney are able to do once more from Monday, October 11
On October 9 Mr Dominello tweeted a photo of himself using the Service NSW app alongside the caption ‘First Look’.
‘This is the VaxPass,’ he wrote. ‘1. It’s in testing phase now. 2. In the next few days we will undertake closed pilots in some regional areas. 3. At this stage we are still on track for state-wide roll-out on 18 October.’
Opposition spokesperson for Customer Service NSW Yasmin Catley slammed the state government for not having the technology ready for the rollout.
‘With our state about to reopen, businesses need certainty on when the app will be available and what steps they must take to ensure compliance with the public health orders,’ she said.
‘This app should have been ready to roll out from Monday, instead businesses will be waiting weeks.
Online, many people have expressed frustration with the process of linking their MyGov account with their Medicare information in order to access their certificate of vaccination.